Mountain Playhouse opening production celebrates ‘The Irish’
The 80th anniversary season at Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown, Somerset County, will open with “The Irish and How They Got That Way,” by Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Angela’s Ashes.”
The production will run June 19-30 at the theater, a restored 1805 gristmill that houses Pennsylvania’s oldest professional stock theater. Preview night is June 18.
McCourt’s musical “is a celebration of the more than 170 years of Irish experience in Europe and in America,” the playhouse says. “Frank McCourt’s singular wit is combined with music ranging from traditional ballads to Broadway standards to U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.’”
“Telling the story of the Irish-American experience can be daunting, given that there are so many stories and so many facets to the experience, but we have a great script by Frank McCourt, so beloved and well-known for the book, ‘Angela’s Ashes,’ and, of course the Irish music is so much fun to play and share,” says director Larry Tobias.
The cast of six actor-musicians will play at least 17 instruments, including guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bagpipes and the boudhran (Irish frame drum).
Part of the second act pays tribute to George M. Cohan, whose compositions include “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Born to Irish Catholic vaudeville performers who insisted he was born on July 4, 1878 (though his baptismal certificate cites July 3), Cohan often is called the “Father of Broadway.”
Cast members include Mountain Playhouse veterans Mimi Bessette and Justine Magnusson, along with Jason Cohen, Luke Darnell, Richard Stillman and Lauren Elizabeth Wright.
An opening night party will follow the June 19 evening performance, at about 9:15 p.m. in nearby Green Gables Restaurant.
The party will debut two projects by University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown students, including “Eighty Years at the Mountain Playhouse: Summer Stock Lives!”, a 100-page book containing 160 images, and “The Show Goes On!: 80 Seasons and Counting at Jennerstown’s Mountain Playhouse,” a 15-minute historical documentary film with more than 100 still and moving images and several interviews.
The film will play on a loop in the theater lobby before shows and during intermissions throughout the 2019 season.
Tickets for “The Irish” are $25-$40 for evening performances, $25-$40 for evenings and $15-$24 for the preview.
Upcoming productions include:
• “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” July 9-21
• “Things My Mother Taught Me,” July 23-Aug. 4
• “Mid-Life 2! #WhatDidIComeInHereFor,” Aug. 6-18
• “The Flood,” Sept. 17-29
• “Million Dollar Quartet,” Oct. 1-13.
Details: 814-629-9220 or mountainplayhouse.org
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .